Scandal week continues. And it keeps getting more interesting.
One of the pieces of pravda handed down by this Administration was the the AP wiretap was put in place because of a leak that endangered national security. Um, maybe not:
For five days, reporters at the Associated Press had been sitting on a big scoop about a foiled al-Qaeda plot at the request of CIA officials. Then, in a hastily scheduled Monday morning meeting, the journalists were asked by agency officials to hold off on publishing the story for just one more day.
The CIA officials, who had initially cited national security concerns in an attempt to delay publication, no longer had those worries, according to individuals familiar with the exchange. Instead, the Obama administration was planning to announce the successful counterterrorism operation that Tuesday.
The AP balked and ran the story anyway. And then the investigation was begun. I could be generous and say that this was just a bureaucratic mixup. But I’m not feeling generous. This feels more like two things: a petty way to get back at the AP for stealing Obama’s thunder and a fishing expedition to see if they could find any government sources talking to the AP. Neither justifies obtaining two months worth of phone records.
Meanwhile, more details continue to emerge from the IRS scandal including details of just how invasive the questions were and allegations (unconfirmed) that a pro-Life group was told they couldn’t protest at Planned Parenthood Organizations.
But at least the people responsible are being … oh:
The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.
Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.
Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.
Well, at least the liberals are going to … oh:
Democrats can’t say it; Barack Obama can’t say it; and the IRS certainly can’t say it, so here goes: The only real sin the IRS committed in its ostensible targeting of conservatives is the sin of political incorrectness—that is, of not pretending it needed to vet all the new groups that wanted tax-exempt status, even though it mostly just needed to vet right-wing groups.
The gist of this appalling defense of the IRS’s action by Noam Schieber is that those dumb Tea Party groups provoked the IRS by filing tax forms. Seriously:
It turns out that the applications the conservative groups submitted to the IRS—the ones the agency subsequently combed over, provoking nonstop howling—were unnecessary. The IRS doesn’t require so-called 501c4 organizations to apply for tax-exempt status. If anyone wants to start a social welfare group, they can just do it, then submit the corresponding tax return (form 990) at the end of the year. To be sure, the IRS certainly allows groups to apply for tax-exempt status if they want to make their status official. But the application is completely voluntary, making it a strange basis for an alleged witch hunt.
This is ridiculous. No one — certainly not anyone who is temperamentally suspicious of the government and the IRS — would wait before confirming their tax status.
Moreover, the IRS has admitted that they selected organizations based on their names and their stated purpose. There is evidence that “provocative” applications from left-wing groups sailed through just fine. In fact, one group had their application approved almost instantly when they changed their name to “Greenhouse Solutions.”
No matter how much the defenders wriggle, these are serious issues. Probably not “impeach the President” issues — Obama is currently wearing a fake moustache and claiming it was all Bush’s fault. But certainly serious enough to warrant investigations, resignations and, in the IRS scandal case, possibly criminal charges.
Sorry, Obama defenders. This is real.
Update: Jon Stewart nails it: